Looking to the spring, California Governor Gavin Newsom has outlined a framework to continue and expand safe in-person instruction that includes a two-billion-dollar early action proposal to support school safety measures.
The plan will support school efforts to continue operating safely in-person and to expand the number of schools safely resuming in-person instruction. The strategy rests on four platforms. They include funding to support safe reopening; safety and mitigation measures for classrooms; hands-on oversight and assistance for schools, and transparency and accountability for families and school staff.
In addition to the new education safety framework, the governor announced a cross-agency Safe Schools for All Team to be headed by UCSF pediatrician and expert on school safety for COVID-19, Dr. Naomi Bardach.
Newsom claimed his education strategy is, “Informed by growing evidence of the decreased risks and increased benefits of in-person instruction—especially for our youngest students.”
Developed in partnership with the Legislature, the governor also announced plans to propose an early action package to ensure schools have the resources necessary to successfully implement key safety precautions and mitigation measures. Components of the plan will be launched in the coming weeks.
“As a father of four, I know firsthand what parents, educators and pediatricians continue to say: in-person is the best setting to meet not only the learning needs, but the mental health and social-emotional needs of our kids,” said Newsom.
“In the midst of this pandemic, my Administration is focused on getting students back into the classroom in a way that leads with student and teacher health. By focusing on a phased approach with virus mitigation and prevention at the center, we can begin to return our kids to school to support learning needs and restore the benefits of in-person instruction. It’s especially important for our youngest kids, those with disabilities, those with limited access to technology at home and those who have struggled more than most with distance learning.”
The overarching strategy prioritizes bringing back the youngest students (TK-2) and those who are most vulnerable first as younger children are at a lower risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.
For parents who are still wary of in-person instruction, distance learning will remain an option for them as well as for those whose health status does not allow them to return to school in the near term.